GERD after the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric Sleeve)

by Waning Woman
(Dallas, TX)

I underwent the VSG, Gastric Sleeve, in February of 2010. Other than an incident with dehydration, my first few months were free of physical side effects.

Around month three or four, I experienced an episode of choking upon my stomach contents while sleeping, but I thought that was just because I’d eaten too close to bedtime. In fact, I’d eaten in the bed and went right back to sleep.

A few weeks later, I noticed that I was having heartburn a few times a week. Up until that point, the only time I’d ever had heartburn in my life was during my pregnancy.

I took a few over-the-counter antacids, but that didn’t seem to help. The heartburn kept getting stronger and more frequent, so I tried acid reducers like ranitidine, cimetidine, etc. Eventually, it got to the point that the only thing that would manage my symptoms was Prevacid, a proton pump inhibitor (ppi).

As long as I take my ppi daily, my symptoms of GERD are pretty much under control. Not eating within an hour and a half of bedtime and sleeping with my head elevated have also helped with my symptoms.

If you’re experiencing acid reflux or GERD after your Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, you’re not alone.

Related Pages:
Bariatric Surgery Complications & Side Effects
Bariatric Diet (What you eat)
Bariatric Eating (How you eat)

Comments for GERD after the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric Sleeve)

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Stomach acid post-surgery

by: Molly K.

I too have had excess stomach acid and even some vomiting of stomach acid. I often wake up with burning stomach contents in my mouth. It is so bitter and sour that I’m afraid it will dissolve my teeth!

I tried all the over the counter antacids too. Nothing was strong enough to really quell the acid and keep it neutralized for more than a half hour or so. Besides, taking pills or capsules of any kind make me horrendously nauseated and often cause me to vomit. Not good for a new Sleeve!

The PPIs, like Prevacid and Prilosec can cause severe osteoporosis with extended use, so I am afraid to take them every day. Being an older female, I already have weak bones and I sure don’t need a broken hip on top of everything else.

Because I had my surgery in Mexico, I had no one to follow up with. I finally consulted two local Gastroenterologists, and neither one was any help at all. They ignored me when I told them I can’t take pills without usually vomiting. They just gave me a blank stare and told me to “take pills.” A total waste of money to see both of those “specialists.”

My best remedy to date is Liquid Zantac. It is a syrup, you only need a teaspoon full, and it is very easy to swallow. I have never thrown it up. It stops the acid immediately and seems to last longer than any of the pills did. It doesn’t make me nauseous, either. Best of all, it is a H2 blocker, so it doesn’t rob your body of Calcium, you can pretty much take it as often as you need it.

I am having excellent results with this product. It is really cheap too… a huge bottle is $4.00 with a prescription. If you can get your hands on this product, I highly recommend it for persistent and serious acid.

Best of luck to you, dear. I am finally feeling better and for the first time, not sorry I did this to myself!

Thank you

by: ChuckAnn

Thanks for your insight. I’m having surgery in 4 days and am being obsessive about getting as much info as I can re problems before I encounter them! For once my OCD is really going to pay off. đŸ™‚ I have complete confidence in my surgeon but not in myself to stay calm and be prepared. Thanks again!

7 months post- op with GERD

by: Anonymous

I’m experiencing GERD. I’ve been on the recommended postoperative antacid, however I’m still having trouble with it. I see my Bariatric Nurse Practitioner this week, hopefully we can find something to help!

It’s bothersome, and has made me think that perhaps I should have gone with the RNY vs the sleeve… Can’t change this now, and I sure hope I find a med that works! On the flip side I’m no longer diabetic nor do I have hypertension!!! Once I get this gerd under control I will be a happy sleevester again :D)

reflux still 7 months after surgery

by: Anonymous

I had a vertical sleeve in dec. I am loosing too much weight. I have constant pain in my throat and chest. feels like something is stuck in the middle of my check and hurts through to the back area. I have severe reflux at times, where after eating 6-8 hours later I will wake up with stomach acid coming out of my mouth. this will send me into coughing spasms. I now have light coughing spasms which are hard to control more frequently. My Dr. was going to check on possibly having my sphincter checked, but its been two weeks and have not heard from him. I have lost a lot of weight and have no muscle. I look malnourished and feel that way also. I have a hard time drinking and eating. I have tried to increase protein but with the pain its not working. I take the proton pump meds, I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I didn’t. Any one had this bad of a problem and found relief. the dr says I may need a revision to gastric bypass. I have lost a lot of my hair, my skin looks awful..I have regrets about the procedure.

Coughing and choking in GERD patients

by: Shivaree

I am awaiting gastric sleeve for GERD and gastro paresis I see by the posts that it is not a sure thing, but to the anonymous post about the coughing and choking…for 2-3 years I had chronic cough and was diagnosed with and treated for bronchitis repeatedly…the treatment would work for 2-3 weeks and right back to coughing again. I decided to go see and lung doctor and lo and behold in 5 minutes he had the answer, I was having Fungal Lung infections from the GERD acid coming up my esophagus. Once treated with anti fungals it appeared less often but the GERD and slowed digestion does cause it to come back. Also and endoscopy revealed Barrett’s esophagus which I believe causes all the choking and feeling of an obstruction in my wind pipe or throat. Check with your doctor or a lung specialist to check for fungal lung infection or the Barrett’s’ esophagus. If the Barrett’s esophagus becomes severe enough there is a surgery that can be performed but I was told they have to get the GERD under control before considering the surgery. I wish you luck and hope this information was helpful to you.

Acid reflux gastric sleeve

by: Anonymous

I had my procedure done in Mexico in August 2011. Due to persistent acid reflux, I was recommended to return to Mexico for a replication. Didn’t notice any difference in follow up from dr either. Pretty scary! I purchased an adjustable bed and gave up chocolate, wheat and caffeine. It helped significantly, but I continue to take a Zantac max strength every night before bed. Went to Germany in October and started eating everything again although in small quantities and I can’t get through the day without a Zantac and I wake up at night choking on acid. I recently started tasting I’m concerned but drs don’t seem to care since they didn’t do the surgery…

Response to GERD after Sleeve

by: Marc Bessler, M.D. Professor of Srgery, Columbia University, NY

Dear Waning Woman,
Perhaps the biggest problem with sleeve gastrectomy is that it can aggravate GERD in those who have it and cause GERD in some who don’t. It is believed that the increased pressure in the stomach after sleeve is part of the cause but also the anatomy of the stomach adjacent to the lower esophageal sphincter is change during the surgery. Often reflux improves over time but for some that is not the case. If medications control symptoms, quality of life is good and there is no change in lining of the esophagus there is no absolute need to do anything. Some however will not want to take daily medication, develop Barrett’s or inadequate weight loss. In those cases, careful evaluation is advisable. A barium study to evaluate the anatomy of the sleeve can help. A hiatal hernia that was not seen at the initial operation or that develops afterwards can be one cause. One option that will eliminate reflux in 95% of patients is revision to gastric bypass.
Anyone with Barrett’s should seriously consider avoiding sleeve gastrectomy and having a gastric bypass instead. Those with reflux that is not well controlled or who do not like taking the medication and lifestyle changes required to control reflux should discuss options with an experience bariatric surgeon.

I hope this helps.

Marc Bessler, M.D., FACS, FASMBS

long island bariatric surgeon

P.S. If you've found my recommendations or this web site helpful, please "Like" Bariatric Surgery Source by clicking the like button below or at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.


by: gary

26 yrs ago I had a gastric bypass stapling, for the last 2 years I been suffering with acid reflux , can’t sleep in bed if I dose off after eating the food comes up and literally chokes me can’t breathe it also cause me to weeze and get wicked cold chills to shaking point now they want to do a revision bypass taking out half my stomach , its risky because of previous stapling and scar tissue this procedure will require food going thru small intestine anyone had this done before a revision? after so many yrs I’m 65 yrs old


by: Anonymous

I have had the sleeve surgery and now was told I have Gerd? I do not have heartburn but I do have choking and coughing all the time. for the last 6 months. nothing is working ?? I need some one that can give me answers

Sleeve and Bile Acid Reflux

by: Anonymous

In July 2015 I will be two years out. I had no acid reflux for about 6 to 7 months out. Afterwards, I started to experience it. For the last two weeks I have been feeling bile reflux. I’m feeling depressed and I’m looking for answers.

I want this to stop without having to get another surgery. Has anyone had any success with getting rid of the heart burn. I feel it every single day, the nastiness in my mouth.

Does anyone know of any supplements that can help with heart burn? Please.


by: Golddustgal

I had VSG 2 1/2 years ago, lost the weight, and had no problems other than acid reflux. Dexilant is the only medication that stopped it. Dexilant is expensive, but I was able to get a discount from Dexilant, paying about $30 out of pocket. But after a year the discount expired and a month’s supply was $128 because my insurance won’t pay toward Dexilant. My PCP has given me a prescription for Omeprazole, but it doesn’t help a great deal. I now sleep elevated and don’t eat for 3 hours before bedtime. And I try not to eat much at dinner, making it more difficult to get in all my protein daily. VSG is still the best decision I ever made, but I hope to try a different medication when I see my PCP next.

Getting Off PPI

by: Anonymous

I had sleeve surgery in Feb 2014 and it’s the best thing I ever did. I have been intentionally Losing weight slowly so that I can learn how to adjust my eating and exercising habits – after-all I still wanted to enjoy food as it is so much a part of our lives and social being. Anyway, my Dr. prescribed a monthly prescription for Omeprazole, which I did not understand until months later what it was actually for. Once, I understood the long terms effect of taking a PPI, I wanted to get off it. I understood from research that coming off a PPI is very difficult and take months, but I was very determined to do it. I am a testament that it can be done, but it takes a lot of work. I used alternative holistic supplements to help ease me off the PPI. I started taking licorice root and a Tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider 2-3 times a day and a daily dosage of probiotics. The licorice helps with digestion, the ACV helps create an acidic environment in your stomach that aids in developing digestive acids and the probiotics helps replace your stomach with good enzymes. I reduced to taking the PPI every 3 days, but for me that was too slow, so after a week I went cold turkey and just toughed it out. I also slightly changed my diet and temporarily have reduced/eliminated coffee, spicy foods, sweets and milk products. I also found reducing/eliminating heavy meats and other foods has been helpful. Everyday, I am having less associated chest and esophagus pain (burning, coughing, feeling of fullness, etc.). I a month out now and it’s much easier for me to eat without interference from reflux. I will say thou, that I have to really pay attention to the basics – like eating smaller meals, chewing my food completely and drinking while I am eating – all the things we are advised to do before sleeve surgery. I would not recommend going cold turkey like I did – amore moderate weaning plan is probably the better option, but you can stop taking PPIs.

I wish my Dr. was more of a Dr.

by: CJBavaro

I went to the local bariatric clinic. They came highly recommend by my GP. I wish I had done more research than I actually had done. Being 54 years old I wish that I’d never had it done.
I had the sleeve. Knowing what I know now, I can’t believe that my bariatric Dr. didn’t fill me in on the pros and cons of having Gerd and then having bariatric surgery. I would have gone for the bypass instead. I’ve told my Dr. That I have Gerd but it seemed to me that this clinic is more of a herd round-up before the slaughter. Like I was pushed through an assembly line. Now after more research, it looks as though I my go for bypass if I can’t get my Gerd under control. It has gotten several times worse than it was. It was actually under control before surgery. Now it is though it has never been treated. I’m afraid of forming scar tissue from the stomach acid of worse yet, cancer.

Avoid drinking liqui Yogurt before bedtime

by: Anonymous

I underwent the VSG, Gastric Sleeve, in February of this year (2015). Other than an incident with dehydration, my first few months were free of physical side effects.

Around month three or four, I experienced an episode of choking upon my stomach contents while sleeping, but I thought that was just because I’d eaten too close to bedtime. I had taken my nighttime meds with liquid yogurt (BAD IDEA!!!).

I am taking 50mg of Nexium at night.

Last night I took my night time meds with soda water. I settled in to watch TV and dozed off. All of the sudden, I woke up with a weird taste in my mouth. I stood up, walked around, and the bad filling subsided.

Not eating within an three hours of bedtime and sleeping with my head elevated have also helped with my symptoms.


by: Anonymous

I am at 6 weeks after surgery and found in the last week that everything i eat is causing bad acid in my throat. Very uncomfortable.I was told to take two prilosec a day. I have never had this problem before. Driving me crazy and making me feel sick:)


by: Anonymous

After my procedure I was given the rx for omeprazole, I take 1 40 mg per day, if I don’t a cup of coffee will effect me, works very well

response to post reflux after 7 months

by: Wendy

Hi, I read your post and I have been having same problems as yourself.

I have excessive weight loss, hair really falling out and skin problems. I have bad acid reflux, I am on 3 ppi tablets a day to manage this but I am getting a lot of pain when trying to eat.

I am 5 months after op and still on soup, anything else I get mega pain. My doctor isn’t really listening, I have had 2 endoscopiess done, a barium x-ray, but food seems to get stuck. I have to now see psychologist, as they don’t think operating will help. I also have a slight kink in stomach due to scar damage after op.

Thank You!

by: Anonymous

I found this website because I was trying to find out if anyone else had been experiencing what I had been going through. To my surprise, I found out I was not alone.

I found myself choking in my sleep and thought it was because I’d either fallen asleep while eating or fallen asleep too close to the last few bites of food I’d taken. Then I come here and someone pretty much typed those exact words.

So far, thankfully, I really haven’t had heartburn or acid reflux but I will take the advice and suggestions mentioned here and just keep an eye on things, sharing too with my medical team. Thanks again for helping me to not feel alone in this experience!

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